This week, we move from the first to the second chapter of Philippians. Last week, Paul gave thanks for the church of Philippi, this week he inspires them to act like Jesus. This beautiful passage, including the Christ Hymn in verses 6 through 11, sets up Jesus as an example for how we are to live out the love and joy we have ourselves received from God.
Compassionate like Jesus
Paul has already commended the Philippian church for continuing in the gospel “from the first day until now” (1:5), so he moves beyond the free and unconditional love God has for us to the “so what?” or “what now?” God became incarnate as a human being not just to take care of our sin and brokenness but to establish the kingdom. God’s kingdom is built on love, a love that is active and transforming. The love of God transforms us so that we have “the same mind” as Christ Jesus. And, Jesus’ mind and focus are on serving others, putting the needs of others above himself. We are called to be like Jesus, having empathy toward those we encounter, seeing their needs, and doing what we can to meet those needs.
Humble like Jesus
Likewise, God calls us to emulate Jesus’ humility. Humility is not about thinking less of ourselves but seeing everyone as beloved children of God. It’s natural for us to think about ourselves as the heroes of our own stories, and others as supporting or background characters. We think of ourselves before and above others. But, this isn’t the way of Jesus. Jesus is, was, and always will be God. He existed before us, and he is in every way above us. But, to Jesus, this wasn’t what was important. What was important was the love God has for creation, for us. And, love is about the beloved, not the lover. Jesus models for us what it means to be humble, and we are called to be like Jesus.
Obedient like Jesus
Jesus practices what he preaches. He gave us the greatest commandments, to love God and to love others. Jesus not only gave the commandments, but he obeys them as well. He does not consider himself above the law. And, he obeyed the will of God and followed the commandment to love others completely, so completely that he suffered a painful and humiliating death on a cross. We are also called to obey the commandments and therefore love others so completely that this love takes over our lives and directs our path. Like Jesus, we are to practice loving others.
Look to the Interests of Others (Free Resource)
This whole passage is all about imitating Christ, acting like Jesus. Simply put, we are to love others as Jesus loves them, as he loves us. Loving others means truly seeing them, empathizing with them. Loving others means treating them as the honored, beloved children of God that they are. Loving others is the command of God, a command we are to practice daily. But, living like Jesus is not about unrealistic expectations, stress, or despair. Living like Jesus is the path to becoming our truest selves, to accepting the abundant life so freely given to us. A life best lived is a life lived for others.
All this talk can be inspiring and heartwarming, but for children and adults alike, we need to break it down into something practical and concrete. For a concrete demonstration, use our free activity “Look to the Interests of Others” (or shorter “Help Others”) from our Living the Word: Kids (PK-2nd) product. Use it in groups of any age (who are able and willing to move, bend, and twist a bit), or creatively adapt it to fit within your worship service or another cross+generational setting.
-Gregory Rawn (Publisher)
2018-2019 (NL Year 1) faith formation materials are now available for purchase. Fall lessons can be downloaded right away! You can download the 2018-2019 Planning Tool and Scope & Sequence to start your planning for the next program year!
For more great ideas on how to engage participants of all ages in the story of God’s love, check out our Living the Word series for elementary students, youth, adults, and intergenerational settings!
Image Copyright: oksun70 / 123RF Stock Photo